129. Should You Pivot to a Life Coaching Career with Lee Chaix McDonough

May 7, 2020

“As coaches, it’s not our job to force them or push them before they’re ready. It is our job to meet them where they are.” —Lee Chaix McDonough

We have entered a time quite similar to the 2008 recession. Lots of people across different industries and professions are being forced to — or are choosing to — look at their current career path and ask themselves “What else can I do?”

For some, this may be a time to reposition themselves within their current field of work. For others, this may be time for a pivot or a career change.

In this episode, we’re exploring life coaching as a possible career path. This field of work has exploded in the last decade. So, today we dig into what this work is all about, who would be ideal for this kind of role, the good and the bad, and what it would take for you to become a life coach if this is a field you’d like to pursue.

I’m joined by Lee Chaix McDonough, a certified business coach. Lee is the creator of the Coach with Clarity framework, an ICF-accredited continuing education program. She is a licensed clinical social worker and the author of the book Act on Your Business.

If you’ve ever considered life coaching as a new career — or are considering what you might or could do next — you’re going to find this episode useful as we drill down on the 411 of life coaching.


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I think that’s what a good coaching experience really does. It’s a partnership of equals. It’s not the coach telling the client what to do, nor is it the client ordering the coach around. It’s really two equals coming together and helping the client achieve much more than maybe they’d be able to do on their own.

I want to clear up a misconception, which is that a coach is a really good advice-giver, or they’re good at telling people what to do. That’s really not at the heart of coaching. At times it may be appropriate for the coach to provide some advice or feedback or some direct suggestions. But really deep, powerful coaching is about guiding the client towards uncovering their own solutions and their own insights.

A good coach is also open to new experiences, open to new ways of viewing the world or approaching things.

There is a time and a place where maybe it’s appropriate for you to take more of a consultant perspective and provide that direct feedback. But that only happens after you have established a very strong relationship with the coach and client so that there’s mutual trust and that we’ve given the client the time and the space to try to come up with their own solutions first.

What makes an effective coach is someone who is intuitive, who can tap into their own inner wisdom and pay attention to those cues that are coming up. And then they know how to translate that into those questions or reflection statements to help the client tap into their own wisdom too. And that’s something that is a skill that can be developed, but it’s not limited to by age.

It’s not uncommon for coaching clients, even those who are motivated to change, to experience resistance, and resistance is part of the process.

There are all sorts of good reasons why they might not be ready to do so. And as coaches, it’s not our job to force them or push them before they’re ready. It is our job to meet them where they are, to make sure that they feel affirmed. And that we take the time to really get into their lives because if they’re experiencing resistance, there’s a good reason for it.

The resistance is part of the process. In fact, the more we kind of move outside our comfort zone, the more that resistance is going to come in to try to keep us in our safe place.

The coaching profession is a self-regulating profession. This means that there is no, at least in the United States, and I think pretty much worldwide, there’s no governmental oversight of who can call themselves a coach, how they’re trained, how they’re certified.

What I have found both in my personal experience and in the coaches that I work with, the first clients tend to come through channels we’ve already established. So it usually comes from personal referrals. That’s why it is so important to be able to clearly articulate your message about who you serve and how you serve them.

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